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Ukraine

Ukraine: it's not Russia and it's not Poland, though its borders have included parts of both countries over the centuries. Evergreen-covered mountains, fields of sunflowers and wheat, and hot Black Sea beaches span a country that's only about the size of Texas. Its emigrants live in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill and Southside neighborhoods, and Ukrainian churches and groceries are tucked into Greenfield. You won't find direct flights from the Steel City to Eastern Europe, but you can surround yourself with Ukrainian novels and films right here at your library. If you are lucky enough to travel to Ukraine, don't miss our travel guides and language materials. Ask a librarian how to find books written in the Ukrainian language, too.

Foer, Jonathan Safran
Everything Is Illuminated
A contemporary novel of a young American who travels to Ukraine to uncover details of his Jewish grandfather. The reasons surrounding the journey are heavy, but a wannabe translator and his sidekick (a dog named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.) steal the show with their humor. Follow your reading of the book by checking out the film of the same name, which stars Elijah Wood. To delve into the history of the grandfather's actual Ukrainian town, long since destroyed, pick up Avrom Bendavid-Val's The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town of Trochenbrod.
 
Gogol, Nikolai
The Collected Tales
Newly translated short stories from one of Ukraine's most revered writers, some set in Ukraine and some set in St. Petersburg.
 
Lewycka, Marina
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
For better or for worse, many Americans associate Ukraine with mail-order brides. This is a story of a mail-order marriage gone awry, with unfortunate and hilarious results.
 
Malamud, Bernard
The Fixer
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this novel is based on the actual murder, interrogation, and imprisonment of an innocent man in Ukraine in 1911. Like many before and after him, the fictional Yakov Bok has left his village for the capital in search of more choices. Instead of finding success, he falls into a Kafka-esque morass at the hands of the czar's secret police.
 
Aleksievich, Svetlana
Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
TD186.5.B35 A4413 2005
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Chernobyl's story has been revived in the world's collective memory. The explosion at the Ukrainian plant in 1986 sent radiation to Belarus, Russia, and beyond. Alexievich's collected recollections from those working at or living near the reactor help bring history to life.
 
Grimberg, Tina
Out of Line: Growing Up Soviet
Grimberg-once a therapist and now a rabbi-shares her warm, colorful memories of a childhood in Ukraine when it was still part of the USSR. Her description of family meals will send you scrambling for the next item on this list.
 
Birchard, Tom with Natalie Danford
The Veselka Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Landmark Restaurant in New York's East Village
TX723.3.B523 2009
America's most famous Ukrainian restaurant brings you recipes for some of the world's best comfort food: borscht, stuffed cabbage, and varenyky (Ukraine's version of the Polish pierogi). Birchard groups recipes into menus that are appropriate for Ukrainian holidays.
 

Updated: 8/31/2011